In 2017, the City of Pierre set property maintenance violation fees. Tonight, the commission updated them to encourage responsible property maintenance. Those who are warned yet remain in violation of property maintenance code can now expect violation fees between $100 and $500.
According to City Finance Officer Twila Hight the change is intended to mitigate repeat offenders.
“The City doesn’t want to be in the property maintenance business,” said Hight. “We’re hopeful this will encourage voluntary compliance and diminish property maintenance complaints.”
Last year, the Pierre Police Department handled about 100 complaints related to overgrown yards and snow removal.
The complaint process requires the Police Department to verify the violation and contact the property owner. The owner then has five days to bring the property into compliance. If voluntary compliance is not achieved, the City contracts with a third party to achieve compliance.
“Generally, that means we hire a private lawn service to cut weeds, mow grass, or remove snow,” said Police Chief Jason Jones.
The City then seeks payment from the property owner for the service provided. If the property owner doesn’t make payment, the bill is sent to the county for inclusion with the annual property tax.
City Administrator Kristi Honeywell says that the process is time consuming for both the Police Department and administrative staff. However, that’s not the source of the City’s motivation.
“The government doesn’t typically generate these complaints,” said Honeywell. “The complaints come from citizens; people want to be in safe and livable neighborhoods.”
Beginning July 15, 2022, after receiving a warning, those who fail to comply with local property maintenance codes should expect a $100 fee for the first violation, a $250 fee for the second violation, and a $500 fee for the third and all subsequent violations. Additionally, the property owner will remain responsible for the cost of the lawn or snow removal service and an additional $100 administrative fee if the bill is sent to the county for payment collection.
“To be clear, we will continue to work with property owners to achieve voluntary compliance. We don’t enjoy assessing fines,” said Chief Jones.